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Sheep Street Fibers, Inc.

 

When a corporate merger threw a monkey wrench into Nancy de Caprariis’ systems analyst career in the late 1990’s, she didn’t panic.  Instead, the avid fiber enthusiast saw the change for what is was – a tool for turning her dream into a reality.  And so, in 1999 Sheep Street Fibers was born.

Initially located in Morgantown, Indiana, - a small town centrally located between Indianapolis, Columbus and Bloomington – Street Sheep Fibers quickly became a popular spot for both local and traveling fiber enthusiasts.  “We are friendly and are open to suggestions for new items,” said Nancy’s husband, Pat de Caprariis, of the shop’s success.  Pat joined the business in 2002 after retiring from teaching at a local university. “We want our customers to feel at home.  We want Sheep Street to mean ‘success’ and ‘fun’.” 

With a wide variety of yarns from such popular vendors as Cascade, Crystal Palace, Noro, Lopi and Dale of Norway as well as their own label, Sheep Street offers visitors plenty to choose from.  The store caters to knitters, spinners and weavers.  They sell fleece to spinners, who want to do the entire ‘sheep-to-shawl’ process and they sell roving to those who just want to spin their own yarn.

 Morgantown was a prime location for Nancy to start her adventure. Situated along the major thoroughfare connecting Indianapolis and Nashville, Indiana, the town receives plenty of tourist traffic.   Downtown Morgantown is two blocks long and one block wide.  Most of it is rural.  Founded in 1831, Morgantown has remained a quaint farming community with less than 1000 residents, featuring an eclectic mixture of antique shops, family restaurants and specialty stores along its main road.  “The main street has always had a number of small businesses catering to tourists,” said Pat, of Street Sheep’s original location.

However, with the addition of business partner Tim Ackerman and his flock, Sheep Street soon outgrew its quaint location.  Tim Ackerman, a fiber artist who teaches both spinning and weaving, has raised sheep for more than 30 years, and raising Shetlands for 15 years.  Tim has been selling their fleeces as well as creating with them.  Sheep Street began offering customers their own brand of yarn as well as roving and a few of the fleeces themselves. “In 2004, we needed to expand, and Tim needed to move his flock,” said Pat, of the shop’s move. “We got together, bought a 20-acre piece of property, built a sheep barn, renovated the existing barn for the shop and moved in.”  With the new location in Martinsville, just 2 ½ miles outside of Morgantown, the venue change only enhanced Sheep Street Fibers public appeal.  Instead of a simple storefront featuring pre-spun yarn and accessories, the new Sheep Street Fibers facility offers customers a true “sheep-to-shawl” experience.

“The shop is at one end of the property, Nancy and (I) built a house on the other end and Tim lives in an apartment above the shop” said Pat of the current location. “The Shetland Sheep we raise – 100 of them at present – and two alpacas, are in the middle.”  The 2800 square foot facility boasts not only an office and storeroom filled with delicious yarns, roving and fleeces, but 12 spinning wheels and five looms reserved  for on-site classes.

Sheep Street offers visitors an assortment of more than 20 courses covering everything from knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving and dyeing. The shop keeps customers informed via an e-mail newsletter as well as its website.  This full service business is a must see on your travels.  When you stop in at Sheep Street Fibers, say hello to everyone for me!

     ~Kristin Gumpert

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